Bananas don't prevent COVID-19 infection - DOH

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2020 04:05 PM | Updated as of Mar 18 2020 05:31 PM

A resident picks a ‘Saba’ variety, banana, from a street stall in Mandaluyong City on Feb. 20, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - There is no concrete proof that eating bananas is a deterrent against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a high-ranking health official said Wednesday, debunking claims made by President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman that the tropical fruit could prevent coronavirus transmission.

“Wala pa pong ebidensiya. Wala pang masusing pag-aaral na makapagbibigay ng hard science or ebidensiya para sabihin na talagang bananas will prevent the transmission or prevent a person from having COVID-19,” Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during the Laging Handa briefing of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

(There is no evidence, no proper study that could provide hard science or evidence that bananas will prevent the transmission or prevent a person from having COVID-19.)

Vergerie, however, stressed that bananas are good for the body.

"Hindi naman natin ipagbabawal na 'wag nilang kainin. 'Wag lang nilang iisipin na hindi sila magkakaroon ng sakit na ito dahil kumakain sila ng saging," she said.

(We are not preventing people from eating them. They should not think that tney will not catch the disease if they are consuming bananas.)

During his regular press briefing on Monday, chief presidential legal counsel and presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo claimed that bananas wold protect people from the infectious disease based on information he found on the internet.

“Marami kasi akong nabasa how to destroy or contain, to kill the virus. You know, even without me knowing it -- ako kasi mahilig sa saging ‘no, tapos may nakita ako sa internet iyong saging pala magandang panlaban daw, eh ako kain nang kain araw-araw ng saging,” Panelo said.

(I've read a lot of stuff on how to destroy or contain, to kill the virus. You know, even without me knowing it -- I've been fond of bananas. Then I saw on the Internet that bananas are a good way to fight the virus. Here I am, eating bananas every day.)

Panelo added that gargling salt water or mouthwash may also help prevent the infection.

As of Wednesday morning, the Philippines has tallied 202 cases of COVID-19, with 17 deaths and 7 recoveries.

The Department of Health earlier warned that COVID-19 cases in the Philippines could peak to about 75,000 cases in the next 3 months if appropriate interventions are not put in place by the government.

The estimate was made with World Health Organization (WHO) officials and Filipino epidemiologists based on existing statistics among all cases across the globe, Vergerie said.

However, Vergeire assured that the country can stem the infection if stringent measures such as social distancing will be followed.